After being in rumors all week about potential trade packages with the Orlando Magic, the Boston Celtics have indeed traded for Evan Fournier, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, with Boston sending Jeff Teague and two second-round picks back to Orlando, all of which was confirmed by The Athletic. Teague is not expected to report to Orlando and will receive a buyout from the Magic allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Let's grade the trade on both sides of the deal.
- Two second-round picks
Magic trade grade: B
This is the footnote on the massive Orlando selloff that saw Vucevic routed to Chicago and Gordon to Denver. There was a lot of talk about Fournier being included as part of a bigger deal coupled with one of those two, but once he became the sole player in the deal, Orlando was not going to get a first-round pick or a current player of value for the 28-year-old Fournier, who's on an expiring contract.
The key in doing the deal with Boston is the $28.2 million Gordon Hayward traded player exception that allowed it to absorb Fournier's full $17 million salary, which is to say the Magic didn't have to take any money back. Had they traded Fournier to a team without a TPE at its disposal, Fournier's money would've had to be matched and perhaps that would've meant taking back a contract not set to expire. The run would be if another team was offering better draft picks but with a bad contract attached. We don't know that.
Either way, Orlando now has a $17 million TPE to use this offseason, when it will also have cap room. Or the Magic could operate as an over-the-cap team and simply trade into Fournier's TPE while preserving flexibility for future offseasons as what is sure to be a pretty lengthy rebuild finally commences. Once Fournier wasn't part of a bigger package, the key for Orlando was getting off his deal and activating the TPE. It did that. It's not a home run by any stretch, but mission accomplished.
Celtics trade grade: B+
It's not the big package Celtics fans might've been hoping for. It doesn't include Aaron Gordon or Nikola Vucevic, the latter of whom was traded to Chicago earlier. But Fournier is a legit knock-down shooter who will support Boston's plethora of one-on-one creation with spacing while generating his own offense as well.
Seeing a lot of "whatever" about Evan Fournier from some Celtics fans.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 25, 2021
19.7 PPG on 46/39/80 splits isn't whatever.
No it's not ideal that he's an expiring contract, but this trade helps Boston's rotation a lot.
Chances are, Fournier will come off the bench for Boston, bolstering its second unit that is extremely short on shooting and playmaking while offering Brad Stevens another closing option in what could become a pretty nasty small-ball five of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Fournier and Marcus Smart. Flip out Walker for Robert Williams or Moe Wagner, and that's still a tough lineup to guard.
Evan Fournier has made 73 3-pointers this season. The Celtics entire bench has hit 178.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) March 25, 2021
Fournier is not as good as Gordon Hayward was supposed to be for Boston, but he's a close enough stand-in for the Celtics' needs in the immediacy as they try to jolt their way back into at least conference-finals contention. They, unfortunately, don't create a lot of good looks via ball and player movement, so if you're going to rely on guys making tough shots off individual creation or one-pass actions, you might as well load up on scorers who can make the most of those opportunities.
Fournier is a free agent this summer, so he could be a rental. If he is, Boston didn't give up much for him in the way of picks, but something tells me Danny Ainge sees Fournier as a long-term fit. John Hollinger of The Athletic floated the possibility of Boston extending Fournier's deal right now and not letting it get to free agency, while also proposing the idea that Boston could send an actual player to the Magic to avoid going over the luxury-tax line. If that happens, which seems likely, it's an even better deal for the Celtics.
As it stands, the Celtics absorb Fournier's full $17 million contract for this season into the $28.2 million traded player exception they had from the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade with Charlotte this past offseason. In other words, the Celtics give up no players, add no money to their books (assuming they can wiggle under the tax line), retain $10.2 million of the Hayward exception to use this offseason, and still end up with a 20-point scorer/knock-down shooter in Fournier along with his Bird rights should they have to re-sign him as an over-the-cap team this summer.
All for two pretty insignificant second-rounders. Again, it's not a blockbuster deal. Fournier doesn't significantly change the Celtics' high-level equation (I'm still trying to figure out why they didn't jump all over Myles Turner if there was even an inkling of an opening to move Hayward to Indiana before he chose Charlotte), and as such, there's a bit of a letdown that this is the deal that ends up consuming almost two-thirds of the Hayward TPE. We all would've loved to see Fournier come to Boston as part of a package that included Gordon or Vucevic, both of which were rumored. Still, all that said, getting Fournier for what they gave up is a good, solid deal that fills real needs.